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In-kind Support and Maintenance

The Social Security Administration (SSA) takes into consideration an applicant’s living arrangement when determining how much he or she will receive in monthly benefits for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The SSA will evaluate how an applicant’s food or shelter is paid for. If someone else such as a family member or friend provides or pays for the applicant’s food or shelter, the SSA will count the assistance as income and reduce the SSI payments accordingly. This is known as In-kind Support and Maintenance.

The SSA will not count In-kind Support and Maintenance if:

  • The applicant lives alone and pays for his or her own food and shelter
  • The applicant lives with others but pays for his or her own share of the food and shelter costs
  • The applicant only lives with his or her spouse and children (if applicable) and no one outside the household pays for food and shelter

What is considered as “Shelter”?

The SSA considers “shelter” as rent payments, mortgage payments, property taxes and utility bills. This does not include optional household bills such as Internet, cable or phone payments. If someone else is paying for optional household bills, the assistance will be counted as normal unearned income and will reduce the SSI payment.


How In-kind Support and Maintenance Reduces SSI Payments

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two rules to determine the value of an individual’s in-kind support and maintenance.

Value of the One-Third Reduction (VTR) Rule

The SSA will reduce an applicant’s SSI payment by one-third if:

  1. He or she lives in another individual’s household
  2. He or she receives both food and shelter from another individual living within the household

For example, if an applicant has no other income and is approved for the max SSI payment but lives with a family member who pays for their food and shelter, his or her SSI payment will be reduced by one-third.

$733 Max SSI payment
-$244 In-kind support and maintenance
=$489 Monthly SSI benefit check

If an applicant receives income, the VTR will be applied first and the income will be subtracted afterwards. For instance, an applicant receives $150 monthly from a trust fund, is approved for the max SSI payment, and lives with a friend who pays for his or her food and shelter. This is how the SSA will calculate the monthly SSI payment for this applicant:

$733 Max SSI payment
-$244 In-kind support and maintenance from friend
-$150 Monthly trust fund
=$339 Monthly SSI benefit check


Presumed Maximum Value (PMV) Rule

If the VTR rule does not apply to the applicant, the PMV rule will be used instead. Unless contested, the PMV is equal to one-third of the FBR (Federal benefit rate) plus $20. The major difference between VTR and PMV is that applicants can challenge the value of their support if an applicant is able to show that the market value of the food or shelter less than the presumed value (one-third the FBR plus $20) The SSA will value the in-kind support and maintenance at the current market value (CMV) and will reduce the SSI benefits accordingly.

Here are a few examples of when the VTR rule doesn’t apply:

  • An applicant lives in another individual’s household but pays for his or her own food.
  • An applicant lives in his or her own house but another individual pays for their utility bills.